Ever meet one of those overachieving parents that seems to have all their shit together no matter what time of day or night and no matter the situation? That mom who always looks put together and can manage a pair of kicky heels and perfect hair in the middle of a hurricane while hand-baking a gourmet brie, packing lunch for multiples, and volunteering for every committee on the PTO without breaking a sweat? Haha yeah, I know, I could hate her, too, except that I know her secret.
And for the record, I am not the put-together mom. I can bake a brie, wear heels (as long as I have cushiony inserts and I’m not planning on standing for very long), pack lunches for multiple people (if I have half a day to do it in), and somehow I manage to get on more PTO committees than not (see illustration). However, I cannot do it all in perfect hair and make-up. I get my make-up right about 25% of the time (thanks to a dear, dear friend who’s also a Mary Kay Consultant and has infinite patience with someone who goes cross-eyed when approached with a mascara wand).
Don’t even get me started on my hair. My second child gifted me with a lush dose of hormones that turned my hair curly–not so bad, you’d think, except the curls only happen in patches, and have a tendency to dredlock up on me, which either makes me a really cool, hip mom…or a poseur, since I’m neither a Rastafarian, nor do I have a religious reason to dred up. So I basically tame the riot just enough to keep it out of my face.
No, darlings…the secret to Doing Everything is simple. You don’t do everything. You Delegate. I’mma say it again, because I know you think you didn’t hear me right the first time. You Delegate. President Dwight D. Eisenhower has this to say on the subject:
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
A US President has, I would think, a bit of experience in that direction. After all, as much as we love to hinge all our successes and hang all our failures around the Commander In Chief, not a one of them got to sit in that funny-shaped office by himself. Now, I’m not nearly as important as the President (although I do get a lot more done, because that’s one of those uncomfortable truths about benevolent dictators–the only checks and balances I have to deal with are the ones on the bank account.
But as benevolent dictator I experience the downside of absolute power–absolute responsibility. And what better way to take responsibility than to share it. Supermoms can sometimes seem so competent and capable that everyone else is left standing around awkwardly, empty-handed and looking helpless in the face of our awesomeness. For most people, delegation might be News From the Land of Duh to hear, but not so obvious when it comes time to implement.
Yes, it can be hard to admit you need help…or that you even have help available. You’ve gotten so used to just doing it all yourself that you’re like a juggler–you can toss as many balls as you can into the air, never touching more than two at a time. You’re fine as long as you keep going, but once you stop, you’ve got more balls coming down than you’ve got hands to catch them. This is where you introduce your lovely assistant into your act. Toss one of the small, easily-catchable balls in his or her direction. Believe it or not, your kids are kids–they have great reflexes.and they love juggling.
Delegating responsibility means giving some of it up and placing your trust in someone else to get something done. It also means giving up some of the credit. If you’ve been this busy for this long, then throttling back may seem like you’re slacking. I assure you, it’s just a matter of perspective. And nobody else’s perspective matters.
You can mourn the loss of your mad supermomming skills, but understand that it will be tempered by the gradual swell of uplifting pride as you watch your young’uns (and who knows, maybe your spouse, too) become jugglers just as adept as you. And you’ll find plenty of other uses for your time, I promise.